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An angler had an ‘emotional’ moment after reeling in what's thought to be the largest halibut ever caught by a Brit.
Paul Stevens, 45, caught a 7.5ft-long fish weighing approximately 400lbs (29 stone) – that’s the same as an American black bear – from the seabed while exploring off the coast of northern Norway.
Because the fish was too huge to haul on board, Stevens had to brave the chilly water to pose for a photo alongside the beast, before later unhooking it to release it unharmed.
A halibut that size is likely to be aged between 70 and 90 years old, according to estimations, and is believed to be the biggest catch by a British angler.
While it is still more than 100lbs shy of the world record, which stands at 513lbs, the impressive catch proved to be poignant for Norwich-based Stevens.
He said: “It was a bit emotional because I have spent a lot of years trying to catch a fish like that.”
Stevens had been enjoying some downtime half a mile from shore at the Lofoten Islands when he decided to use some dead coalfish as bait, which ended up doing the trick.
He continued: “It dived three times and pulled the boat about half-a-mile. It took me 20 minutes to reel in but that's because I am an experienced angler.
“It could easily take others two hours.
“There is no way you could weigh a fish that size. There is a universal formula of taking the measurements of a big fish to calculate its weight which is what I did.
“I put it back afterwards. A fish that size is a breeding stock. A fish that size is between 70 to 90 years old as well.
“It was extremely hard work and it took me three days for my shoulders to recover.
“It was a bit emotional because I have spent a lot of years trying to catch a fish like that.”
The Atlantic halibut – or Hippoglossus hippoglossus – is the largest flatfish in the world.
Found in eastern and western parts of the North Atlantic, they can reach up to 15ft in length and weigh up to 700lbs.
The biggest halibut ever reeled in was caught back in 2013 by German angler Marco Liebenow, weighing 513lbs (37 stone).
According to FromNorway.com, legend has it that the fish was a personification of Balder, the Norse God for strength and wisdom – something that means fisherman treat halibut with respect.
“With her flat and strangely skewed body, this deep-sea giant can get as large as 3.5 meters and weigh as much as 300 kilos,” the website says.
“That's three big human males in one female fish. In comparison, the little male halibut only weighs up to 50 kilos.
“It’s no wonder catching a female halibut has been a test of manhood for centuries.”